8 key steps for creating a standout food or beverage brand

By Richard Horwell, Brand Relations

Your product may taste absolutely delicious but without brilliant branding it may not be a success. It is vital to remember that 90% of a first-time purchase is based on the branding; it’s why a consumer will pick your product over their regular choice or your competition.

But don’t confuse design with branding. Branding is the message you want to give your target consumer. That message should be ‘BUY ME’. 

So how can you create the standout brand you need?

Provide education 

Your target audience will ask, for example: ‘what is unique about this product?’; ‘why is it better than the competition’; ’is this product offering value for money?’ Your branding needs to answer all these questions.

That’s what the branding is for; to provide instant education – which can be done with clear branding on your packaging.

Link to what your audience already understands 

If you are attempting to break new ground with an idea or base ingredient then you need to add something that the consumer knows.

For example, we’ve developed a drink based on the Stinging Nettle called Emunity. To help consumers to try this we’ve added ingredients and flavours they recognise, like gooseberry, cucumber and wild strawberry.

The messaging is easy to understand and includes elements that consumers can grasp instantly.

Ask Questions

To get your branding right, you need to ask yourself and others some questions:

1/ Where will this product sell and what brands will sit alongside it? How will my product stand out?

2/ What is my brand message? For example, is it based on health, functionality, spoiling yourself or great taste? 

3/ Will my consumer be able to read the messages on the packaging from a distance?

4/ Does my brand look premium enough for the selling price?

5/ Why should a consumer buy my brand instead of their regular choice?

Getting the answers to these questions is the first step to creating brilliant branding.

Consumer focus

Many consumers want to try something different, but that doesn’t mean they have all day to research every product. They need to be drawn to a brand that relates to them.

So, make sure your message conveys this. Always focus on your consumers, not yourself.

A good example is Chillio.  It started with a logo splashed across the bottle – with no thought to education, messaging, a relevant name or the drink’s point of. We rebranded it to sit alongside craft beers so you could be out sipping Chillio without feeling embarrassed you weren’t drinking. The new name highlighted the chilli ingredient in the drink (its point of difference) and the visual design evoked fun, hot days in South America.

Point of Difference 

To have any chance of success in today’s market you must have a point of difference. This should be very clear in your branding and messaging on the packaging.

What makes your brand different? Make a list and then pick the MOST important points. Highlight these on the packaging. The less important ones can go on areas the consumer will read once they pick the product up.  

How minimal?

Minimalism has become a trend. However, be careful not to be too minimal. Find the right balance between doing too much or too little.

For example, FYX is a new collagen drink we’ve been working on. The recipe, branding and messaging has been designed to speak to sports people, so the messaging highlights the recovery and muscle repair benefits of collagen. This is delivered in a clean, no-fuss style. Minimalist, but also balanced – so consumers can quickly understand what the drink is about.

A relevant name

Start by researching your chosen brand name and make sure it is RELEVANT to your product and your audience. Be clever with your brand name, find something that is simple but conveys your product’s message and has longevity.

For example, we recently worked on the branding of an alcohol-free adaptation of the Chapman cocktail, which originated in Nigeria. The product name, ‘Afria’, was carefully chosen to convey both the drink’s African roots and the alcohol-free content.

Your Values

Consumers want brands to be transparent and they want to understand the brand’s heritage and values. Is the product certified to be Vegan, Fairtrade or Organic? Which of these will resonate with your target audience? Consumers also look for certifications like ‘B Corporation’, which commends businesses that give as much consideration to their social and environmental impact as they do to their financial returns. 

Wanting to buy from companies with matching values is an opportunity for new, indie brands as established companies can’t adapt quickly.

With brilliant branding you’ll educate your audience and encourage them to make that all important first purchase.


Richard Horwell is the owner of Brand Relations, a specialist food and drink marketing and branding company based in London. Over the last 13 years, Brand Relations has been behind the launch and development of over 100 brands in the UK. Richard has also built up and sold companies of his own in the Food and Beverage sector. He has over 30 years’ experience in marketing FMCG brands around the world, having lived and worked in the UK, USA, Australia and the Middle East.





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